Best Sewing Machines for Free Motion

Looking for a sewing machine for Free-Motion Quilting or FMQ? Simply make sure that your new quilting machine includes the following two features:

  1. The possibility of its feed dogs being dropped. You’ll find it as the ‘Drop Feed Dogs‘ feature and refers to the downward teeth that help the fabric move forward or backward when stitching).
  2. A ‘Free Motion Foot‘, often known as ‘Darning Foot’ (like the one on the left image). But let’s go over some of the quilter’s favorite models in different price ranges.

Any machine that meets these two requirements will suffice for a beginner, so now that we’ve learned that, let’s take a look at some of the quilters’ preferred machines at different price points.

Ah! If you need to buy a darning foot as an additional accessory, make sure it is compatible with the machine you already own or intend to purchase.

FYI: Free Motion Quilting is also known as FMQ or Free Motion Embroidery, so you may run across references to either of these terms while searching the internet.

Best Free Motion Quilting Machines Reviewed

1. Juki TL-2010Q Free Motion Quilting Machine

  • Budget: $$$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Drop Feed Dogs: Yes
  • Speed per Minute: 1,500 spm
  • Speed Slider: Yes
  • Start/Stop Button: No
  • Included Feet: Standard, Zipper, Even Feed, ¼ Quilting.
Juki TL-2010Q Free Motion Quilting Machine

This machine is so sturdy that you’ll feel confident enough to try free-motion quilting for the very first time. After practicing for only a few days you’ll notice how your designs already look closer to what you had imagined and after a week your hands and feet will be working in unison like you had been doing free motion your whole life.

Of course, I can’t grant you pro skills right away, but if there is a machine that can quickly help you improve your free-motion quilting results, bets are on this Juki. Yes! The machine is super reliable and extra intuitive, but what you’ll love about it is the huge amount of communities and YouTube support you’ll find along the way helping you with ANY issue you might encounter.

What you’ll like:
  • Substantial improvement of FMQ*(free motion quilting) just by changing over to this Juki.
  • Instant needle up and down, no waiting for the next stitch like with the Brother PQ1500SL.
  • Multiple thread-cutting options such as an on-machine button or on the foot pedal.
  • It also has 2 vertical thread holders for larger spools.
  • It uses standard home sewing needles.
  • It offers a variety of thread-cutting options, such as an on-machine button or a foot pedal.
  • If you like standing up while sewing, you’ll be happy to know that the pedal foot is big, super comfortable, and responds very well.
  • Plenty of community support and YouTube videos with reviews to learn from.
  • Smooth experience with multiple layers of batting.
To take into Account:
  • Only straight stitches, no zig-zag or decorative stitches.
  • Juki doesn’t make an open-toe walking foot, but instead, you can get Janome’s High Shank walking foot.
  • It can be difficult to learn how to use the automatic needle threader, but once you do, it’s extremely useful.
  • You’ll need oiling its 6 spots every time you use it if you want it to last you a lifetime.

2. Janome 3160QDC Free Motion Quilting Machine

  • Budget: $$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Drop Feed Dogs: Yes
  • Speed per Minute: 820 spm
  • Speed Slider: Yes
  • Start/Stop Button: Yes
  • Included Feet: Open-Toe Even Feed, Open-Toe Darning, Overedge, Zipper “E” Sewing, Satin Stitch, Blind Hem, 1/4” Seam, Zig-Zag, Automatic Buttonhole.
Janome 3160QDC Free Motion Quilting Machine

The Janome 3160 is one of the most popular sewing machines for quilt retreats and workshops.

This machine adjusts to you from the start, regardless of your skill level. As a novice, you’ll find it very easy to thread, and as a more skilled quilter, you’ll notice how everything you can do with a larger machine you can do with this model, making it ideal for those wanting an affordable but high-quality model for their second home.

Furthermore, it comes with a full range of decorative stitches to help you get creative with your free-motion embroidery skills. It also includes a table that increases the amount of area available for sewing, making it ideal for larger projects or materials because the weight does not pull the fabric.

3. Brother PQ1500SL Free Motion Quilting Machine

  • Budget: $$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Drop Feed Dogs: Yes
  • Speed per Minute: 1,500 spm
  • Speed Slider: Yes
  • Start/Stop Button: No
  • Included Feet: General Purpose, 1/4 inch, Concealed Fastener, Flex Reaction, Walking Foot, Quilting, Zipper.
Brother PQ1500SL Free Motion Quilting Machine

The Brother PQ1500SL is also an interesting candidate for continuous piecing, since it includes a fantastic 1/4″ piecing foot and very clear markings on the stitch plate, allowing you to consistently get the ideal 1/4″ seam. This robust model offers superior quality in anything you require, like stitching through eight layers of cloth or batting, while remaining reasonably quiet.

Although it comes with no speed slider reducer, the sensitive pedal allows you to easily go from stitch by stitch at a time to full speed while always offering flawless feed and a crisp stitch. Finally, the price of this Brother is a significant advantage. If you’ve fallen in love with the Juki TL2010Q but have a limited budget, don’t panic because this machine is practically the same for a lower price.

What you’ll like:
  • The Pin Feed System can be disengaged and feed dogs can be lowered for free motion.
  • Its weight keeps it in place while quietly sewing large projects.
  • Very well made and with metal chassis for longer durability and endurance.
  • The pedal foot is very responsive and easy to control, which makes dealing with the speed a delight.
  • Built-in Knee Lifter leaving both hands free for fabric handling.
To take into Account:
  • The needle up and down feature stops working on the next stitch, instead of immediately.
  • Only straight stitches, no zig-zag nor decorative stitches.
  • No Free Arm.

4. Singer 9960 Free Motion Quilting Machine

  • Budget: $$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Drop Feed Dogs: Yes
  • Speed per Minute: 850 spm
  • Speed Slider: Yes
  • Start/Stop Button: Yes
  • Included Feet: General Purpose, Zipper, Buttonhole, Satin, Blind Hem, Open Toe, Cording, Darning/Embroidery, Even Feed/Walking, Overcasting, Button Sewing, Narrow Hem, 1/4″.
Singer 9960 Free Motion Quilting Machine

The Singer 9960 is ideal for beginners who want to get started with free-motion embroidery and appliqué without spending a fortune. If you’re new to quilting and sewing know that this one is also one of the most user-friendly and intuitive machines on the market. Besides, when you choose the bonus pack option, you will receive a variety of accessories at a low cost, eliminating the need to purchase additional feet.

Thanks to the Start/Stop button and the ability to adjust the speed of the stitches you’ll be able to leave your pedal foot aside for an even more intuitive experience. You’ll be surprised how efficient the automatic threader and the thread cutter are avoiding you to reach for the scissors every time you need to cut threads when piecing. You really save loads of time.

Last but not least, like with any good free-motion machine, the Singer 9960 comes with a detachable extension table to support the weight of your quilts, resulting in more even stitches.

5. Juki HZL-F600 Free Motion Quilting Machine

  • Budget: $$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Drop Feed Dogs: Yes
  • Speed per Minute: 900 spm
  • Speed Slider: Yes
  • Start/Stop Button: Yes
  • Included Feet: Standard Purpose, Walking Foot, Quilt, Open Toe, Patchwork, Edge Sewing, Smooth, Buttonhole, Zipper, Manual Buttonhole, Overcasting, Blind Stitch.
Juki HZL-F600 Free Motion Quilting Machine

If you’re looking for a superb machine that can perform a high-quality straight stitch while also including a plethora of decorative stitches for free motion embroidery and regular sewing, the Juki F600 is an excellent choice for just about any quilter.

It feeds a wide range of fabrics smoothly, including denim, quilts, and chiffon, and thanks to its large extension table, it becomes an ideal candidate for free motion quilting if you want a machine that can take the weight of heavier materials and quilts. You won’t even have to take your hands off your work if you don’t want to.

The only disadvantage is that it is slightly more expensive, though it is still within many people’s budgets. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a multi-purpose sewing machine that’s also great for free motion embroidery and quilting, this is a great option. In fact, this is the machine I would personally choose from the list.

6. Brother CS7000X Free Motion Quilting Machine

  • Budget: $
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Drop Feed Dogs: Yes
  • Speed per Minute: 850 spm
  • Speed Slider: Yes
  • Start/Stop Button: Yes
  • Included Feet: ¼” piecing, spring action quilting, walking, buttonhole, overcasting, monogramming, zipper, zigzag, blind stitch, and button.
Brother CS7000X Free Motion Quilting Machine

The Fixed Needle Bar feature is a free motion quilter’s dream come true if they want to free motion on heavier fabrics because it improves needle stability, resulting in fewer wonky stitches. That’s in addition to the machine’s 70 decorative stitches, drop feeds, speed slider, automatic threader, and other features, all for a very low price.

If you want to try free-motion quilting for the first time but aren’t sure if you’ll stick with it, I believe this is a good model to start with. It’s also a good option if you only need a backup quilting machine and don’t want to spend a lot of money on it.

What you’ll like:
  • The Fixed Needle Bar feature offers you less wonky stitches while free motion quilting.
  • Lighter than all the other models, making a great classes companion.
To take into Account:
  • The smaller throat size is a potential limitation for advanced quilters.
  • There are no lights in the operation panel so you’ll have to use an external one if you need extra lighting.

Free Motion Quilting Machines Comparison Chart

*Speed Per Minute: referring to the number of stitches a machine can perform in a minute.

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FAQs

Can any sewing machine do free-motion quilting?

Yes, it can! You can use your regular machine by changing into a free-motion quilt foot and dropping the feed dogs. If your machine can’t drop the feed dogs you can always trick it. Place a piece of plastic on top of the feed dogs and keep it stuck with a few strips of tape. Now you’ll be able to move the fabric around the way you want.
Even so, if you can afford a specific quilting machine for free-motion, the task will become much easier, and you will save a lot of time and effort.

What is the best sewing machine for quilters?

There are many sewing machines that are prepared for quilting. However, we’ve hand-picked the best sewing machines for quilting on the market for you. Check them out!

What sewing machine do quilters use?

Of course, there isn’t just one. You can, however, get a sneak peek at the best quilting sewing machines used by professionals at home. Perhaps you’ll be inspired!

What is the best stitch length for free-motion quilting?

There is no precise length. It depends on the effect you want to achieve. I recommend that you experiment with different stitch lengths to see which one you prefer for each project. Have a blast!